Whist I am over in "Blighty" this week to check on the aged mother, John and Jenny Wainwright have been keeping the birding front going with a visit to Fuente de Piedra and the Laguna Dulce. In addition to ll the other birds seen, it was good to read in John's report, see below, that the Cranes have returned for the winter. Like last year they made it back ahead of schedule by the last week of this month so I suspect I know where I might well be heading within a week or so of my return to Casa Collado!
It would appear that John and Jenny were not the only pair on the move this week as I also received a report from Steve and Elena Powell that they had taken the long journey down to the Brazo del Este on the eastern bank of the mighty Guadalquivir in search of winter birds. Looking at Steve's photographs they must have timed their arrival in time for a mass meeting of the Little Grebes Convention; there certainly seemed to be n almighty lot of them! Not only grebes to be seen as Steve and Elena once more made contact with the colony of Black-headed Weavers and also saw Osprey and Great White Egret amongst other species during their visit.
As for me, no sooner had we landed and got back to Stamford and we were off down to Southampton to check up on mother. The Isle of White took most of the bashing form the well-announced storm so no problem in that quarter. Then it was back to met up with workmen completing the kitchen remodelling before a visit to the optician tomorrow morning and fly back Saturday. But, I did manage to slip away this morning for a very quick walk around the local patch at Rutland Water where I found prodigious numbers of duck. Mainly Gadwall and Tufted Duck but also a good number of Wigeon, Mallard, Common Pochard and Teal. No camera with me so, as might be expected, a number of very handsome Pintails within "spitting distance" of one hide and they would have more than filled the frame so close were they to me. However, no sign yet of any winter thrushes so they will have to wait until I return to Stamford at the end of November.
Fuente de Piedra & Laguna Dulce: 30 October 2013
A warmish day with a brisk breeze. We had to attend the doctors before leaving Salar we didn´t get away until 11.30am, so directly across to Piedra. As we drove in we could see the water levels were non-existent at the boardwalk and the shepherd was out with his flock. As we passed the scrape we found one Ringed Plover, several Meadow Pipits and a few White Wagtails. The bushes and reeds held Sardinian and Cetti´s Warblers as well as House Sparrows and Stonechats. It was here that Jenny spotted two raptors; one was a female Hen Harrier and the other a very dark phase Booted Eagle - this bird was seen later being mobbed by a male Sparrowhawk.
From the mirador we saw Little Egrets, Lapwings, Stone Curlews, Greater Flamingos, Yellow-legged, Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Black-winged Stilts, a few Stonechats and a Common Redstart.
At the closed hide - the water level was quite reasonable - here we located Common Snipe, Shovelers, Mallard, Teal, Moorhens, Common Coots, Little Grebe, Common Sandpiper, Goldfinches, Black Redstart, Sardinian Warblers and a Willow Warbler. Two Chiffchaffs were seen as we were leaving. It was in this hide that we met an English couple, Colin & Celia, who told us that they had seen four Common Cranes fly over them yesterday (Tuesday). As we drove out of the car park a Thekla Lark, several more Meadow Pipits, two Corn Buntings and another female Black Redstart were seen.
|Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
As we drove towards the Cantarras mirador, eleven Common Cranes were located in the distance. We then carried on to Laguna Dulce. En route a Northern Wheatear was seen as were two Ravens.
At Dulce we found Red-crested and Common Pochards, Coots, Moorhens, Mallard, White-headed Ducks, Black-necked, Little and Great Crested Grebes. Two Marsh Harriers - one female and one juvenile male - the latter was seen to make dives at the duck population at the far bank.
Also along the far bank we saw a Purple Swamphen, Great White Egret, Little Egrets and a few Black-winged Stilts. A tern was seen here by myself but I lost sight of it without identification. A good number of gulls here, mostly juveniles and while looking through them, two Cattle Egrets flew across them and across to the far right of the hide.
At the waters edge to the left of the hide, a good duck population was seen - mostly Shovelers with a few Mallard, Black-winged Stilts and a Common Sandpiper. In the reed beds and bushes around the vicinity of the hide were Cetti´s and Sardinian Warblers, Chiffchaff, Goldfinches, White Wagtails and a Blackcap was heard.
Lots of butterflies in and around the reserve, including Long-tailed Blues, Large Whites, Yellows and Bath Whites.
|Long-tailed Blue Butterfly Lampides boeticus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
Still, its nice to see the Cranes back, albeit very small numbers as of yet.
Many thanks John and, no doubt, by the time I get over to Fuente de Piedra the Cranes might be back in their hundreds; I hope so!